Chuck Reed, former Mayor of San Jose, and a board member of the Retirement Security Initiative, a national, bipartisan advocacy organization focused on protecting and ensuring the fairness and solvency of public-sector retirement plans had an op-ed on njspotlight arguing against just approved to turn over the police and fire pension system to the police and fire unions.
It is true that the New Jersey retirement system has been a disaster, with systematic overpromising and underfunding running up billions of dollars of pension debt. You might think it could not get any worse. You might think letting the public-employee unions take it over might not be disastrous. You would be wrong.
If you think legislators and governors have been irresponsible, too willing to give out sweet benefits and too unwilling to pay for them, you are right. But legislators and governors at least have to face the voters from time to time. Instead, this bill would put people in charge of making decisions who never have to face the voters. People who have no interest in controlling the spiraling costs of existing or future benefits would get unlimited credit cards. New Jersey is set to jump from the frying pan into the fire.
1) Politicians Facing the Voters
Perhaps it is different in California but from what I have witnessed most voters here are spoon-fed candidates hand-picked by political bosses looking for a combination of naiveté and ready acquiescence to the wishes of their masters (law firms and other vendors making their living off government contracts). These people are uninterested in fiscal restraint beyond providing it lip service and voters are either unfazed or unaware of the cancers in their midst, despite the obvious symptoms.
2) Unions Managing Their Own Plans
We have them. They are called multemployer plans and many are going bankrupt but for demographic reasons abetted by weak funding rules. Unions have every incentive to keep these plans going and none I am aware of are raising benefits. On the contrary, many are lobbying government regulators to allow massive benefit cuts to keep their zombie plans alive and paying their fees and salaries.
3) Ignoring the Bill
New Jersey Police & Fire unions may be able to elect to bring back cost-of-living-adjustments for retirees or even raise the base benefit and they could get an actuary to put an honest cost on benefits but, after decades of orchestrated underfunding, any requests for the real cost of benefits are more than likely to play out like this: